mom and daughter reading books on international women's day
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17 Ways You Can Really Make A Difference On International Women’s Day

It's so easy.

Originally Published: 

March 8 marks International Women’s Day, and this year’s theme could not be more on point: “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” As we take time out of our day to honor the women amongst us who have inspired, led, and held the world together this past year, International Women’s Day is also an opportunity to make a difference.

Whether it be volunteering in your community or reaching out to a woman you admire, International Women’s Day was created in 1909 as a way to activate and campaign for equality, according to the official International Women’s Day website. The commemoration quickly grew across the world, first in Denmark the next year, followed by Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. By 1975 International Women's Day was celebrated for the first time by the United Nations; decades later, you can get ready to celebrate this year on Monday, March 8.

Today the girl power vibes can be felt the world over as nations pause to acknowledge the unique power, performance, and perseverance of women in countries as distant as Burkina Faso and Cambodia. But as far as we’ve come, ask any woman and she’ll tell you we still have a long way to go. From campaigning for equal wages to fighting for proper healthcare, ensuring voting rights to enforcing transparency in the #metoo age, the challenges women face continue to be a global battle. But there are ways you can help. Here are a few.


Join a board.

So many women’s organizations need fresh members to help move their missions forward. Whether it’s a local women-focused charity or a cycling advocacy group that needs more women members, as the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn't be that women are the exception."


Use the official hashtag.

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Don't let the cynics tell you that social media doesn't make a difference. Get on your Instagram, your Facebook, or your Twitter, and let's see those #EachforEqual posts. Whether it's an endorsement of a women-led organization or company, a shout-out to the most inspiring woman you know, or a snapshot of your day at an IWD event, posting and using the hashtag can motivate others to get involved, too. This is one kind of social media peer pressure that is beneficial for everyone!


Speak up.

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"In my experience, being bold for change means having the courage to stand up and speak up — not just for yourself, but for others. This enables confident, empowered individuals and teams," Carla Christofferson, Executive VP of AECOM, wrote on the official IWD website. "It’s up to each and every one of us to ensure all voices are heard and that all people are given equal representation and respect."

Your voice is the most valuable thing you have, and March 8 is the perfect day to use it. Honor your experiences, your goals, your hopes, and your thoughts about International Women's Day, and inspire others to do the same.


Make introductions.

You might be surprised how much power you carry and how you can help another women move forward in her career simply by getting a little networking help. So go ahead and make the introduction by introducing a young woman to another powerful mover and shaker. Or write a letter of recommendation and advocate for another woman.


Read up.

Understanding the women’s equality movement is a powerful tool when called to defend it. So take some time on International Women’s Day to read up its history. And be sure to look beyond the lens of your own experience by looking at the struggles of women in other areas of the world.


Start a book club.

Starting a book club may sound like a strange way to celebrate IWD, but by focusing on stories about gender equality you can open the door for more honest and authentic discussions, not with just the women you know, but everyone you know. A few books to consider: Educated, by Tara Westover, I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb, and We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.


Give a compliment to an overlooked woman.

Have a colleague who is doing big things but rarely gets praised for it? Notice someone going the extra mile with little fanfare? Be the person to shine the spotlight on these individuals either with a private note or vote of confidence.


Create an IWD playlist.

You know what will psych you up to celebrate IWD? Some songs that scream “I am woman hear me roar.” So pull up Spotify and put together a list of your most empowering tunes.


Honor our elders.

None of us would be here without the work of the women who came before us. So take some time to reach out to your elders on IWD. Even if these women never identified as feminists or fought on the frontlines, many, through the act of living, made a difference and we should honor their work regardless.


Teach your children about International Women's Day.

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Educate the next generation of feminists and activists by getting them involved in IWD activities. Explain to your kids why the day is celebrated, and how important it is for women and men to be treated equally. Read about remarkable women, watch an inspiring girl power movie, or volunteer together.


Donate to a local women's shelter.

Do something today to support the struggling, marginalized women in your community. If you are financially able, give a monetary donation to a women's shelter or another nonprofit helping local women. Round up clothes you don't wear anymore or toys your children no longer play with, and drop them off at a shelter. Call or stop in and inquire about volunteer opportunities. Find a way to offer support to the women in your community who need it most.


Support a woman-owned business.

Use this day as a chance to support your favorite women-owned or women-run businesses. Round up your friends or family and go eat dinner at a woman-owned restaurant, or splurge on a new outfit at your favorite boutique. Endorse these businesses for free by writing great reviews or simply giving them a social media shoutout.


Attend a local IWD event.

What better way to celebrate the day and spread the message than by gathering with women and allies at an organized event? The official International Women's Day website has a tool to search IWD events in your area, from "global gatherings, conferences, awards, exhibitions, festivals, fun runs, corporate events, concert performances, speaking events, online digital gatherings and more."


Support a girlfriend's project or endeavor.

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There are motivated, inspiring, and go-getting women all around us. Whether you've got a friend writing a blog or a coworker raising money for a cause she's passionate about, you've got a chance to offer your support and encouragement. You can help by donating, sharing the project online, or simply reaching out with kind words, and International Women's Day is a wonderful time to do it.


Accomplish or work toward a goal.

If you're brimming with girl power and feminist pride, channel that toward a goal of your own. Use this day to remind yourself that you are capable, powerful, and worthy, and there is nothing stopping you from reaching that dream you've been pushing aside. It's easy to brush off your own goals and focus on others, but today is a day to be selfish.


Invest in the next generation of women.

One of the most powerful, impactful things you can do is to empower the next generation of women. Write a letter to your daughter about all the ways she makes you proud, gift your niece with an inspiring new book, or use the holiday as motivation to sign up for Big Sisters, Girls on the Run, or another mentorship program. No matter how big or small, your actions can have profound effects on young girls.


Thank a woman (or women!) who inspires you.

International Women's Day is the perfect time to show your gratitude toward a woman who inspires you. Send your mom or grandma a bouquet and thank them for everything they've taught you. Surprise your best friend with a thoughtful letter. Reach out to a female leader in your community and thank them for their work. It may be a small gesture for you, but it will be incredibly meaningful for them.